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Round Up of Covid Support for Small Businesses

Employers

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) Extension

The current CJRS scheme which has been in place since March 20 and was due to end on 31st October, however as a result of a second lockdown being announced the scheme has now been extended.

Key Points

  • CJRS Scheme extended until 31st March 2021
  • Support will increase again to 80% of average wages for the months of November, December, and January, following which the government will review the level of support provided and may reduce this dependent on the current economic climate.
  • All employers are eligible to use the scheme even if they have not use this before, regardless of whether their business is open or closed.
  • HMRC will be publishing details of employers who use the scheme
  • Employers can support employees who were on the payroll as of 30th October 2020
  • Employers can be placed on full or flexible furlough
  • Employees on all types of contracts can be furloughed including Zero Hours.
  • For previously furloughed employees, the same calculations should continue to be used, for newly furloughed employees a new reference period must be used.
  • Employees can be furloughed if they are shielding or have caring responsibilities as a result of Coronavirus.
  • The scheme can also be used to support employees who are off sick as a result of covid or they can use the Sick Pay Scheme
  • Employees on the payroll on 23rd September 20 and where made redundant can be re-employed and placed on furlough.
  • Employees continue to maintain their right to work including holiday pay accrual
  • Any changes to an employee’s working time is a change of contract and should be reflected in a new furlough agreement signed by both parties
  • Claims under the extended scheme can be made from 11th November 20

Further guidance on the extended scheme is expected on 10th November 20.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Job Retention Bonus

The Job Retention Bonus will  no longer be paid in February 2021 due to the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. A new scheme is expected to be announced to replace this in time.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-can-claim-the-job-retention-bonus-from-15-february-2021

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme (SSPRS)

Ordinarily employees are eligible for up to 28 weeks Statutory Sick Pay at £95.85 per week if they are unable to work for at least 4 days due to illness. This cost would not normally be reclaimable from HMRC.

As a result of the current pandemic, if employees are required to self isolate for the following reasons, they will also be eligible to receive SSP and employers will be reimbursed for the cost of up to 2 weeks sick pay:

  • testing positive for Coronavirus
  • they live with someone who has tested positive or is showing symptoms
  • they have been notified by Test and Trace
  • they have been advised to self isolate

Employees must earn on average £120 per week to be eligible to receive SSP, below this level they will be required to contact the DWP. This payment cannot be made to employees who are required to self isolate for 14 days on returning to the UK following travel to a restricted area.

https://www.gov.uk/statutory-sick-pay

Businesses

Test and Trace Support Payment

On 20th September, a new scheme was announced to support those on a lower income who are required to self isolate following contact from the NHS Test and Trace team.

If contacted by the Test and Trace team and you are required to isolate for 14 days after the 28th September 2020, employees and the self-employed over 16 may be eligible for an additional payment of £500 if they cannot work from home, have lost income, and receive at least one of the following:

  • Universal Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Income Based Employment Support Allowance
  • Income Based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Pension Credit

Discretionary payments may also be granted if the following apply:

  • employed or self employed
  • work at least 16 hours per week
  • earn less than £372 per week
  • are not in full time employment
  • do not have savings above £6,000

However, if the above does not apply, discretionary payment applications can also be made outside of the requirements, for exceptional circumstances.

It should also be noted that if using the NHS Test and Trace app and a notification is received because you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive you will be unable to make a claim unless you are told to self isolate by the Test and Trace team. This does not however mean that you will be unable to apply for a discretionary grant payment.

The scheme will run until 31st January 2021 and applications are made via the local authority:

East Devon District Council – https://eastdevon.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/test-and-trace-support-payment/test-trace-support-payment/

Exeter City Council – https://exeter.gov.uk/benefits-and-welfare/covid-19/test-trace-support-payment/

Teignbridge District Council – https://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/funding-support/test-and-trace-support-payment/

Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)

The government has extended the Self Employment Income Support Scheme from 1st November for businesses still affected by a reduced demand as a direct result of coronavirus.

Although the claims portal for the first and second grants has now closed, the new extension will provide two additional grants between November and April next year.

Key Points

  • The third SEISS grant will cover the period of November 20 – January 21, providing a sum of 80% of average monthly profits in the same way as before, this is capped at £7,500 (increased from 20% and 55% in previous announcements)
  • To claim, individuals must have been eligible for the first and second grants even if they did not claim them
  • Individuals must also declare
    • they intend to continue to trade or
    • they have been impacted by reduced demand or
    • they were previously trading but temporarily unable to do so due to covid
  • The fourth grant will cover the period February – April 21, although the value of this grant has yet to be decided.
  • All grants received under SEISS are subject to tax and national insurance via the self assessment process.

Additional guidance on the next grant will be available from 30th November 20

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/self-employment-income-support-scheme-grant-extension/self-employment-income-support-scheme-grant-extension

Extension on Reduced VAT for Hospitality Sector

The VAT reduction has been extended until 12th January 2021.

Businesses within the Hospitality, Holiday Accommodation and Attractions sectors can continue to charge 5% VAT on certain supplies including food and non-alcoholic beverages.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-reduced-rate-for-hospitality-holiday-accommodation-and-attractions

Extension on Deferral of VAT Payments

Businesses who took advantage of the VAT deferral for returns due from March to June 20 originally had until 31st March 2021 to pay off any outstanding VAT. Recently it has been announced that businesses will be given the opportunity to make smaller payments over a longer period, until the end of March 2022, rather than having to meet this shorter deadline.

Businesses will need to opt into the scheme with further details on this process due to be released shortly. It is envisaged that additional interest will be added to outstanding payments although this has not yet been confirmed.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/deferral-of-vat-payments-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19

Extension on Deferral of Self Assessment Payments

Self Assessment Income taxpayers have had the option to defer income tax payments for July 20 and this has been extended to include payments due on 31st January 21.

Taxpayers can choose to make payments over 12 months to bring their accounts up to date, with both payments required to be cleared by January 2022.

Further details are due to be published but contact can be made with HMRC’s Time to Pay service – 0800 024 1222

https://www.gov.uk/difficulties-paying-hmrc

Extension to Bounce Back Loans – The Pay as You Grow Scheme

Bounce Back Loans are available to eligible businesses until 4th November 2020. The scheme is capped at 25% of annual turnover and no fees or interest are payable for the first 12 months.

The initial repayment term of 6 years can be extended up to 10 years resulting in a reduction in repayments. There will also be an option of making interest only repayments and taking a 6 month ‘payment holiday’.

Further details on this extension are due to be released shortly.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-outlines-winter-economy-plan

Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG)

This new grant has been implemented to assist businesses who are required to close for at least 3 weeks due to local lockdowns.

The funding is paid by local authorities as per the Test and Trace Payment and businesses will receive a grant for each eligible property that is within the lockdown zone. Eligible businesses are those who pay business rates and have been unable to provide in-person customer service from their premises.

The grant is based on a sliding scale in relation to the business properties rateable value:

Rateable Value less than £51,000 = £1,000 for each 3-week period the business is closed

Rateable Value above £51,000 = £1,500 for each 3-week period the business is closed

If you business is closed and you do not pay business rates, you could also be eligible for a discretionary payment of up to £1,500.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-youre-eligible-for-the-coronavirus-local-restrictions-support-grant

Additional Discretionary Grants

Many local authorities and business support organisations continue to have funds available to through discretionary grants. Below is a list of useful sources where further information on available grants can be found:

Devon County Council – https://www.devon.gov.uk/coronavirus-advice-in-devon/document/grant-and-funding-support/

East Devon District Council – https://eastdevon.gov.uk/grants-and-funding/

All Local Authorities – https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council

Business Information Point – https://businessinfopoint.co.uk/business-funding/

Devon Community Foundation – https://devoncf.com/give/devon-coronavirus-response-recovery-fund/

Heart of South West Growth Hub – https://www.heartofswgrowthhub.co.uk/covid-19-support-for-business/

Grants Online – https://www.grantsonline.org.uk/coronavirus.html

Devon & Plymouth Chamber of Commerce – https://devonchamber.co.uk/covid-19-guidance-for-business/

Federation of Small Businesses – https://www.fsb.org.uk/resources-page/funding-sources-for-businesses-during-the-covid-19-pandemic.html

Westcountry Savings and Loans – https://www.westcountry.org.uk/

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